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Forgery: Modus operandi (British History)
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Mick Harper
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The poor bloke will have to undergo an enormous battery of tests including a carbon date unless he's clutching an early medieval text. Then all tests, and indeed bets, are off.
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Mick Harper
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I am presently listening to Julian Barnes reading from his The Man in the Red Coat. Although he doesn't realise it, I think he is in the middle of a forgery scam. Unfortunately the talk is now off the list of things you can listen to but if anybody has the book or can get hold of it, let them sing out. (I can't 'cos they've closed the libraries and Barnes is too noble to be cheaply got from Amazon... da dah). Anyway the dramatis personae consists of these (so far, I'm only ten minutes in and there's an hour to go) and include a number of wrong 'uns. Plus enough right-ons to get our own book up and running. Get on it!

Henry James
Marcel Proust
Burne-Jones
William Morris
John Singer Sergeant
William de Morgan
Prince Edmond de Polignac
Count Robert de Montesquiou-Ferenszac
Stéphane Mallarmé
Dr Samuel Jean Pozzi

Liberty's
Chelsea bookshops
The Grosvenor Gallery
Royal Academy
National Portrait Gallery
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Mick Harper
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A Spanish archaeologist whose staggering discoveries included one of the earliest representations of the crucifixion and proof that the written Basque language was centuries older than previously thought has been found guilty of faking the finds. The discoveries were little short of miraculous: pieces of third-century pottery engraved with one of the first depictions of the crucified Christ, along with Egyptian hieroglyphics, and with Basque words that predated the earliest known written examples of the language by 600 years. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/11/spanish-archaeologist-sentenced-for-faking-basque-finds

We featured this hilarious case some little time ago since it has all the hallmarks of our own dear academics. "Ooh, just what we've been looking for, we're much older than anyone else." Our lot prefer Anglo-Saxons and they have to forgo the Egyptian stuff, though the Irish go in for it occasionally -- "It's from North Africa, you know." The English and the Irish are joined by the Welsh when it comes to mysterious objects with writing six hundred years earlier than anyone's got a right to.

The archaeologist and his two co-conspirators (one a geologist) were weighed off with what looked to be stiff prison sentences except the Guardian assured us they wouldn't have to go inside on account of Spain automatically suspending first-time custodials. Excellent! Not because I'm a Howard Leaguer but because it ought to have been the academic establishment whose feet shouldn't have touched for taking it seriously in the first place. As one of the crims said, "We were basically having a laugh."

Ethelbert's Law Code, the Book of Kells and the Lichfield Gospels are a good laugh too. Or would be if everybody would join in.
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Hatty
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What is it with linen shrouds?

The longest surviving text in Etruscan, an ancient language of Italy, was found inside an Egyptian sarcophagus, used as the wrappings of a mummy.

The text is known as the Linen Book of Zagreb, where it and the female mummy it once enclosed are now exhibited.

Has the linen been scientifcally dated? Has the ink? Has it ever

The linen itself may even date from the 4th century BC, though the inscription seems later, from between 200 and 150 BC, having been neatly written with expensive ink.

The very first mention of the mummy and its wrappings was in 1848 or 1849 when it was sold 'as a souvenir' to an Austrian-born Croatian tourist

In 1848, Mihajlo Barić (1791–1859), a low ranking Croatian official in the Hungarian Royal Chancellery, resigned his post and embarked upon a tour of several countries, including Egypt. While in Alexandria, he purchased a sarcophagus containing a female mummy, as a souvenir of his travels. Barić displayed the mummy at his home in Vienna, standing it upright in the corner of his sitting room. At some point he removed the linen wrappings and put them on display in a separate glass case, though it seems he had never noticed the inscriptions or their importance.

One might wonder how a mummy fares without the wrappings in a Viennese drawing room. But anyway, the inscriptions were eventually noticed in 1867 after the mummy, presumably now with its wrappings, was donated to Zagreb's archaeological museum which promptly entered it in their catalogue, noting the unknown/undeciphered writing. It was only in 1891, now back in Vienna, that the text was pronounced to be Etruscan

In 1891, the wrappings were transported to Vienna, where they were thoroughly examined by Jacob Krall, an expert on the Coptic language, who expected the writing to be either Coptic, Libyan or Carian. Krall was the first to identify the language as Etruscan and reassemble the strips. It was his work that established that the linen wrappings constituted a manuscript written in Etruscan.

It's not made clear how Krall established that the manuscript was written in Etruscan as he had nothing with which to compare it

Located at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, this is the only preserved copy of such a manuscript.
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Mick Harper
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Very droll. Especially the bit about taking the medium out after a coupla hundred years to write on it. Where have we heard that before? "Have we got any linen left, dear?" "No, go and rob a tomb." The dates may not be accidental

In 1848, Mihajlo Barić (1791–1859), a low ranking Croatian official in the Hungarian Royal Chancellery, resigned his post

1848 was the date of the first Hungarian Uprising against the Habsburgs and their dastardly policy of setting Magyars against Croats. In other words he was either sacked or fleeing for his life.

But anyway, the inscriptions were only noticed in 1867 after the mummy, presumably now with its wrappings, was donated to Zagreb's archaeological museum

The year of the 'Dual Monarchy' when Vienna (Habsburgs) agreed that Budapest (Magyars) could do what they liked with their Croats (Zagreb). In other words it was in a joblot carted off to the provinces.

In 1891, the wrappings were transported to Vienna, where they were thoroughly examined by Jacob Krall, an expert on the Coptic language, who expected the writing to be either Coptic, Libyan or Carian. Krall was the first to identify the language as Etruscan and reassemble the strips. It was his work that established that the linen wrappings constituted a manuscript written in Etruscan.

When you want your Etruscan translated, call in an expert on Coptic, Libyan and Carian.
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Mick Harper
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There Are No Fakes (Sky Arts Channel)

Two-hour film about Canada's greatest art forgery episode. Basically it was this Eskimo artist, Norval Morrisseau, putting out some triffic paintings (even I could see that), several hundred of them, eventually selling for tens of thousands of dollars a throw but ending up. as per, penniless. Meanwhile a completely obvious bunch of crooks are producing several thousand of them and selling them to avid Canadians through a network of shyster galleries and auctions houses. I have to be a bit careful because the Canadian government seems not to care and nobody has been prosecuted.

Lots of the usual tropes but with some new twists. Like for instance the artist actually being in prison when producing some of the work (and not just saying he was, to lend street cred). But more when others have maybe watched it.
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Mick Harper
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This is well worth reading though not for the reasons the author thinks
https://medium.com/nutsandboltsofbible/historicity-of-jesus-2660ef595673

He kinda understands the situation but can't bring himself to shrug.
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Mick Harper
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ROMANIAN 19TH CENTURY HISTORICAL PAINTING AND COLLECTIVE MEMORY în "CROSSING BORDERS IN ARTS: BEYOND MODERN & POSTMODERN”
Roxana M Coman -- Art Readings 2017, Institute of Art Studies, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2017

Not the most promising of browses when it comes to art forgery but if you read between the lines of the blurb, you will discern a few lurking brush strokes

Two years ago, during the annual international conference organized by the International Society of Cultural History, I gave a presentation that emphasized the coexistence of various timeframes in Romanian historical painting during the nineteenth century. Based on the artworks I have put under the microscope, I discovered that present events were represented in the same manner as past ones, thereby transforming the present into an important participant in the big historical framework.

With this paper, I intend to go beyond the mere process of identifying the timeframes and attempt to understand why this particular choice and why the present is tasked with so much meaning. This is where cultural memory studies come into play by revealing the process of selective and subjective memory, be it collective or individual.

I don't think the phrase 'under the microscope' is to be taken literally. The idea of a conference organized by the International Society of Cultural History permitting a paper to be read entitled "They're Bang At It" is a fanciful one. Though there might be some mileage to be gained when Bulgarians start putting Romanian art 'under the microscope' and vice versa.
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Hatty
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In 2017 the British Museum organised an exhibition of 100+ Hokusai drawings that had recently been discovered. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is far and away the best-known Japanese artist, most famous for his 'Breaking Wave' woodblock print. It is surely among the most reproduced prints in the world.

They are described as "lost" having last surfaced publicly at auction in France in 1948: they've been in a private collection ever since...

Hokusai was by his own admission a late developer, claiming none of his works made before the age of 73 (he lived to be almost 90) were worth anything so how did so many drawings come to light a hundred years on from his death? Perhaps through the 'legendary' Havemeyer Collection which was largely bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after Louisine Havemeyer's death in 1929. The Met has since found several forgeries, unsurprisingly, in the Havemeyer bequest as well as in other collections donated by American tycoons.

But more likely they are drawings in the style of Hokusai prints which are easy to photograph and then trace or copy We have just been told that a Rembrandt painting originally judged to be forged has been authenticated as from the Rembrandt workshop, if not his own work then the work of an artist from his studio.
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Mick Harper
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I was elsewhere talking about the Ten Inventions by Arab Inventors We were Never Taught About. I assume by 'us' Ms Sharika Hafeez means Euro-American Christians but I suspect it would apply to the average Arab as well. I will deal with it here in a forgery thread though I have no idea whether they are or not at the moment. I'm not racist or anything.

1. The First University
Fatima Al-Fihri (800–880 A.D.) was the daughter of a rich merchant. She built the world’s first university — the University of al-Qarawiyyin (or Karueein)— in 859 AD in Fez (which is now Morocco). Initially begun as a mosque for educational purposes, this was the first degree-awarding university in the world, teaching a variety of subjects like Islamic Studies, Mathematics, Medicine, and Astronomy. According to UNESCO and Guinness World Records, it is the oldest operating university (preceding the University of Bologna by a century), and is also home to one of the oldest libraries on earth.

This rings true but I was struck by a) Ms Hafeez thinking 'preceding the University of Bologna by a century' is a gee-whizz when for me it was more of a 'how close is that?' I presume the oldest library on earth does not include those that are no longer on earth (if they ever were) but oldest libraries are as common as oldest pubs. The books tend to be astoundingly un-old. Even so, a good start...

https://medium.com/@sharikahafeez/10-inventions-by-arab-inventors-we-were-never-taught-about-f560002e5834
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Hatty
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Fatima Al-Fihri (800–880 A.D.) was the daughter of a rich merchant. She built the world’s first university — the University of al-Qarawiyyin (or Karueein)— in 859 AD in Fez (which is now Morocco).


The source for 'the first university' is an Arabic chronicle, Rawd al-Qirtas (The Gardens of Pages) written in 1326. Author(s) unknown.

The chronicle recounts the history of Morocco from 788 to 1326 but not very reliably

Modern researchers consider that the first and last sections contain a valuable record of their respective periods, even if not completely free from errors. On the other hand, the sections on the Almoravids and Almohads are considered to be riddled with chronological and factual errors and omissions and make this work one of the least trustworthy sources for those periods

The same unreliable Rawd al-Qirtas is the source for Fatima al-Fihri, the purported founder of the mosque that later developed into the oldest continually operating madrasa

Her story is told by Ibn Abi Zar' (d. between 1310 and 1320) in The Garden of Pages (Rawd al-Qirtas) as founding the Qarawiyyin Mosque. Since she was first mentioned many centuries after her death, her story has been hard to substantiate, and it has been speculated it might be ahistorical.

The mosque-turned-madrasa became the University of Al-Qarawiyyin in 1963. Its claim to being the 'first university' is a modern fabrication

one of the biggest challenges to this story is a foundation inscription that was rediscovered during renovations to the mosque in the 20th century, previously hidden under layers of plaster for centuries. This inscription, carved onto cedar wood panels and written in a Kufic script very similar to foundation inscriptions in 9th-century Tunisia, was found on a wall above the probable site of the mosque's original mihrab (prior to the building's later expansions).

The inscription, recorded and deciphered by Gaston Deverdun, proclaims the foundation of "this mosque" (Arabic: "هذا المسجد"‎) by Dawud ibn Idris (a son of Idris II who governed this region of Morocco at the time) in Dhu al-Qadah 263 AH (July-August of 877 CE). Deverdun suggested the inscription may have come from another unidentified mosque and was moved here at a later period (probably 15th or 16th century) when the veneration of the Idrisids was resurgent in Fes and such relics would have held enough religious significance to be reused in this way
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Mick Harper
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When I said 'a good start', I mispoke. It's good to see the twentieth century Moroccans are building on the proud traditions of nineteenth century Brits.
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Mick Harper
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2. The First Flying Contraption

A thousand years before the Wright brothers invented a flying machine, Abbas Ibn Firnas — inventor, physician, chemist, engineer, musician, poet — successfully invented the first heavier-than-air flying contraption to be recorded in history. He also accidentally invented a precursor to the parachute, in 852, when he jumped off the minaret of the Grand Mosque of Cordoba with a cloak tightened with wooden struts. He didn’t fly then, but the cloth slowed his descent, as a parachute would.

It was in 875, when he was 70 years old, that he constructed his glider and stayed airborne for 10 whole minutes, and then crash-landed. It is assumed that his experiments served as an inspiration to Leonardo Da Vinci’s numerous drawings of flying devices
.

These are all familiar enough tropes -- though of course they may be the origin of the tropes. It is interesting that the formula 'heavier than air' is used, presumably to distinguish a glider from a balloon, but the significant advance is 'powered flight'. Ask the flying squirrel. Though if he could stay aloft for ten minutes he would probably say, "Screw evolution." He would probably add, "And don't take any of the so-called Leonardo Cartoons in the Queen's Collection terribly seriously either. Turn of the twentieth century more likely." Talkative chap, your flying squirrel.
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Mick Harper
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4. Coffee

With over 400 billion cups sold annually, coffee has become an essential beverage in today’s world. While there are several accounts to how it was first discovered, the most widely-accepted story comes from 9th century Ethiopia, when a goat-herder named Khalid (or Kaldi) observed his goats chewing on some seeds and getting unnaturally excited.

Soon after, people began boiling the seeds, which gave a fragrant dark brown liquid. And so coffee became popular among the people and was exported to several other countries. But it was not brought to England until 1650 when a Turk opened a coffee shop in the City of London
.

'Number 3, Anaesthesia and Surgical Instruments' is dealt with elsewhere but with Coffee we are already hearing the sound of barrel bottoms being scraped. And even that seems to feature an Ethiopian and a Turk rather than the Arabs we were promised. Even so, ''Muslim' and 'popularised' is good enough. Not being permitted alcohol will do that to a culture.

PS Is 'a Turk' a synonym for 'a Jew'? Cromwell, like all fundamentalist Christians, was terrifically pro-Israel and had just invited them back for the first time since 1290. So the history goes.
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Hatty
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Wiki has doubts about Kaldi's bona fides

The history of coffee dates back to the 15th century, and possibly earlier with a number of reports and legends surrounding its first use.

The story of Kaldi, the 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd who discovered coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a coffee plant, did not appear in writing until 1671 and is probably apocryphal.

but its article on the history of coffee accepts a monastic origin

The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the early 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen, spreading soon to Mecca and Medipol. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, South India (Karnataka), Persia, Turkey, the Horn of Africa, and northern Africa.

I'd incautiously assumed that the Turks were responsible for introducing coffe into Europe probably because etymologists say coffee is from the Dutch koffie, based on Turkish 'kahve'.
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